Beyond the Mystique: Domesticity and the Proverbs 31 Woman

She has dinner ready by six o’clock. The steam from roast chicken with carrots and mashed potatoes dances under the nostrils. Lamps and end tables are free of dust and clutter, kitchen countertops are shiny and slick, the sink is empty; not a hair is out of place on this woman’s head, and her lipstick perfectly kisses her wide smiling lips. She serves food to her husband and children, who are seated around the dining room table. Her children smile, laugh, and act affectionately towards each other and towards their parents. All is right in the perfect little world of this happy housewife, a scene akin to a family sitcom from the 1950s called Leave It to Beaver. June Cleaver was the iconic image of a 1950s housewife, and the show centered around her youngest son’s boyish mishaps and adventures.

The Cleavers were the quintessential post-war American family: the dad worked, while the mom stayed home and cooked and cleaned. They embodied traditional family values and stuck up for morality. For the most part, everybody in the household got along. If there were any familial or outside skirmishes, they were confronted with ease and perfectly resolved. Watching the show can feel like entering a time warp to a by-gone era. It is pure, innocent, and clean compared to some family sitcoms of today. I’ve known some Christians who wistfully look back on the show and decry the perceived corruption of our modern world. They would say our society is now less “Christian” than the 1950s. But was the show truly Christian? Was the portrayal of a happy housewife through June Cleaver something Christian women should strive to embody?

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4 Ways to not be Busy

 

I am woman.

I am invincible. 

I am tired. 

A saying borrowed from a 1970’s song succinctly states a dilemma still facing today’s women. The feminist movement has always told us we are strong and powerful and can do anything we set our minds to do. Then why are we so exhausted? We throw around the phrase, “I’m busy,” like a boomerang. It feels like we are playing a broken record on repeat trying to get the same things done every day, but it doesn’t end; and does anything really get done?

This is the mentality of our western culture — a hurried frenzied mess. We pop stress like pain pills. If you aren’t running like mad through this labyrinth of busyness like everyone else then you are boring or lazy, right? This way of thinking is so wrong, but it’s such a strong cultural pressure pushing on us that it’s hard not to give in.

As women we think we can never do enough. If we choose to stay home with our kids then we feel like we should make up for not having another job title by staying super busy around the house. Whether a working mom, stay at home mom, or a single career woman, there is always pressure out there to do more than we are already doing. How should we think through this false cultural way of thinking and replace it with a Christian way of thinking?

1.) You can’t do it all

It’s hard to admit it. It’s humbling to realize we are actually weak people in desperate need of strength from God. I’ve been realizing this lately. I’ve always struggled with self-sufficiency and pride. When my husband goes out of town or works late a few nights in a row I think I can handle everything on my own. A toddler, a baby, and a house to take care of can’t be that hard, right? Then when I try to do too much with him gone I become burnt out, stressed, and exhausted. I realize I actually need a lot of help.

We aren’t mean’t to do everything on our own. God gave us a support system through his church body and our own family unit. Ask for help more often from your husband, friends, family, and most importantly God. Just admitting you can’t do it all is the starting line that frees you to run the race. God says he gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud. So, humble yourself, ask God for help more often, and he will pour his grace on you.

2.) You can’t please everyone

The only one we need to please is God. Ask yourself, with the season I’m in right now what is God calling me to do? What would please him? It should be a very simple answer.

For example, with the season of life I’m in right now my calling is to serve my husband and children. Right now, for me this looks like staying home and taking care of our children, our house, and preparing food for us. It’s ok if I want to add a few other activities to my plate that I enjoy or need to do, but my top priority and main focus are my husband and children and taking care of our home. If anything else infringes on that priority then I need to evaluate my options and say no to some things.

Nancy Leigh Demoss says,

“Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God’s prioritites for each season of life.”

3.) Be intentional

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said,

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

Why is it barren? Because being busy just for the sake of being busy lacks purpose and focus.

God redeemed us to give us purpose. Our purpose on this earth is to know him more, make him known to others, and to bring him glory in whatever lot he gives us at the moment. This is the purpose of every true Christian man and woman. God’s Word gives us guidelines for other ways we have purpose in this life and how we can please him. His Word can help us be intentional, because it speaks to every season of life.

Jesus is a true example of intentionality. He came to this earth as a man with one purpose, one focus, one intent, and that was to bring salvation to mankind. He was always about doing his father’s will. Every miracle and every teaching in his earthly ministry had one focal point, and that was the fulfillment of the Gospel through himself. The miracles and teachings were just tools he used to achieve his one mission.

After 33 years of ministry, Jesus was able to say,

“I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.” John 17:4

His one purpose on earth was fulfilled. It was finished. What work has God given you to do right now? You can go to bed with an unfinished to do list if you finished the work God had for you for the day.

4.) Rest

Among the agenda of Jesus’ ministry he always went off alone to pray and think. We can’t do the work God has for us without rest. At the top of the list is spiritual rest. We have to make time to study and meditate on God’s Word and pray often.

Also, make time to exercise other forms of rest. Nap. Just sit, think, and read. Do something creative with your hands. Take a walk. Learn to be ok with being alone with yourself and with God. Learn to be still and quiet.

If the season you are in right now does not lend time for more specific areas of rest then just focus on spiritual rest.

Much of the barren busyness in our culture is an unconscious tactic to fill the empty void inside us. This is not how it should be for us as Christians. We are already fulfilled in Christ, we don’t need an endless amount of appointments and activities to make us feel important or worth something. We have only one life on this earth, let’s not waste it being busy.

 

Can We Really Have It All?

Feminism tells us ‘we can have it all.’ Is this possible? Even if it is possible, should we have it all?

Feminism after World War Two told women to leave the home and have a career. Now it’s more of a relaxed approach where domestic arts are not frowned upon, and feminists believe in the importance of marriage and motherhood. It’s even trendy now to be domestic. Today it’s cute and desirable to be a woman who bakes bread, knits, and throws Pinterest-worthy birthday parties for her kids.

Now we see the post World War Two career woman married to the domestically cute wife and mother. We have to be both. Do it all and be it all. The social pressure is high to become a one woman juggling act and add one more ball.

We have to race to the top of the corporate ladder as fast as the men, be as successful outside the home as inside the home, still come home and cook healthy meals for our families, help with homework, do house chores, bake cookies, and still find time to be beautiful and skinny. Women keep pressuring women to do it all and be it all. In the feminist quest to be like (or even better) than men we’ve beat up our own sex.

The Juggling Act

Pick up the phone, women, reality is calling and she’s saying you can’t have it all. Well, you can, but something in your life will suffer. Your career might suffer, your marriage might fall apart, your children will not have your full attention, or your health might take a dive. When juggling so much it’s inevitable that something will be subpar. It’s time to stop believing the cultural lie forced on us in our fast-paced society. It’s time to lay down our pride and know we can’t do it all.

Anne-Marie Slaughter says it perfectly in her article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,”

“All my life, I’d been on the other side of this exchange. I’d been the woman smiling the faintly superior smile while another woman told me she had decided to take some time out or pursue a less competitive career track so that she could spend more time with her family. I’d been the woman congratulating herself on her unswerving commitment to the feminist cause, chatting smugly with her dwindling number of college or law-school friends who had reached and maintained their place on the highest rungs of their profession. I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in. Which means I’d been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).”

In his book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” Greg Mckeown says:

“The idea that we can have it all and do it all is not new. This myth has been peddled for so long, I believe virtually everyone alive is infected with it. It is sold in advertising. It is championed in corporations…What is new is how especially damaging this myth is today, in a time when choice and expectations have increased exponentially. It results in stressed people trying to cram yet more activities into their already over scheduled lives.”

He goes on to say:

“It’s not just the number of choices that has increased exponentially, it is also the strength and number of outside influences on our decisions that has increased….The larger issue is how our connectedness has increased the strength of social pressure. Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload.”

The Weariness of it All

It’s time to stop the comparisons, judgements, and pressures among women and slow down. For Christians there is only one opinion that matters: God’s opinion. God views us through his Son, and thereby we are perfect in his sight.

God is also omnipresent (he is everywhere at once.) Just like Adam and Eve, we can still eat the forbidden fruit today and try to be like God. Yet, God knows we are not like him; he knows we are weak and limited. As such, he created sleep for us and commands us to rest.

Our God is the one who said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30.) There is only one who can do it all. Jesus Christ. He is the one who took our heavy burden of sin away, and exchanged it for his light burden and easy yoke. The good news is that Jesus has already done it all. It’s finished, and now we truly have it all.